Nijkerk is finally accepting Schenectady.
The city in the Netherlands has been Schenectady’s sister city for decades. It’s the hometown of Arendt Van Curler, who founded Schenectady with 14 other Dutch pioneers in 1661.
In honor of that connection, host families have exchanged visitors for 29 years. But Nijkerk never officially acknowledged the connection.
This summer, the city plans to change that.
Schenectady will be recognized during the Nijkerk’s 600th anniversary festival this summer. City leaders have even invited Mayor Gary McCarthy to give a speech during the celebration.
McCarthy said he plans to go, although city business will force him to stay only a few days.
Nijkerk has also invited 30 Schenectady residents to attend — far more than the typical group hosted by Nijkerk families each summer.
Connie Colangelo of the Schenectady/Nijkerk Council said she’s worried that she won’t find enough Schenectadians to fill out the group. She’s announcing the trip earlier than normal to drum up interest.
“Hopefully we’ll get 30 people,” she said.
She had planned to skip this trip due to health concerns, but the plans are so enticing that she wants to go.
“Whoever goes is going to have quite a nice trip,” she said. “The program is quite unusual — places we’ve never been.”
In addition to the 600th anniversary festival, the group will visit the Queen’s Palace and a palace in Amsterdam.
Colangelo can’t wait.
“I would love to go in,” she said of the Queen’s Palace. “I’ve been outside the gate looking in. It’s so beautiful outside.”
She would love to see the inside.
The group will also visit the village of Delft, where the classic blue-and-white pottery is made.
The Schenectady tour groups have never gone there before, Colangelo said. The trip costs $1,227 and runs from June 27 to July 11.
Those interested in the trip should attend a meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the First Reformed Church, 8 N. Church St.
The festival is on July 6, but a street sign declaring Schenectady as Nijkerk’s sister city will be unveiled amid speeches on June 28 at 4 p.m., Netherlands time, which is 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
McCarthy has tentatively confirmed that he will attend and give a speech.
“Even though there are some inherent scheduling conflicts,” he said. “It’s a significant milestone within the history of that city.”
He said he will pay his own bills; the trip won’t cost the city anything.
He added that he was pleased to support the sister-city concept.
“There’s been a long-standing relationship between the two cities,” he said.